Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Does your life matter?

A major article in today's Wall Street Journal has the front page headline, "The Drugs That Power Tech: Ketamine, LSD, Mushrooms." Authors Kristin Grind and Katherine Bindley are apparently convinced that the smartest, richest people in the world are all about psychedelics these days. Many seem to believe this is the key to creativity and insight that can enable them to flourish, prosper, and improve the world.

They couldn't be more wrong, more horribly confused about themselves and the world. And the drugs will make their confusion much worse.

About three quarters of a century ago, Albert Hoffman's "problem child" LSD began to have its impact on Western culture. The smartest, richest people in the world at that time also believed this could be a sea change for humanity. What developed, most notably, was some fantastic music from 1964 to 1967 and some ugly violence from 1968 to 1975. But there were neither miracles nor armageddon; evolution didn't stop or leap furiously ahead, it was a wash.

John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison died pretty soon; so did Allen Dulles, Richard Helms, Adelle Davis and Joly West. It took about a quarter of a century for America to renounce the bullshit, and then forget that it had been bullshit. Morrison's grave at Père Lachaise, the dog-eared copies of Let's Get Well and Exploring Inner Space on my bookshelf, are remnants and obscure reminders.

History is interesting, but most of all for purposes of non-repetition. We do repeat history though. We don't learn much, and that's because of our horrible confusion about ourselves and the world. 

The final sentence in today's Wall Street Journal article is instructive. It says people are clamoring for psychedelic drugs because this is a time when they are looking for ways to feel like their lives matter. And that's the utter inanity arrived at with almost 110 column-inches in the most widely circulated daily newspaper in these United States, folks!

Of course people look for ways their lives matter! But a much better way to say what is meant by that might be that people look for (actually dream up) interesting things to create, and they like other people.

What does it mean that someone's life matters? It's about what that person has done, what they have said, what effect they have created on other people. That's what someone's life is. A life that matters is not a period of years during which an identifiable human body, with a particular name, ate and moved. Your body, of which your brain is just a part, doesn't matter. That biological machine just won't ever count for much. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, with brain as with skin, or liver, no matter what drug anybody ever took.

A person matters. But a person is not their brain or any other mere piece of their body. Thinking that a brain drug might save or glorify a person is simply nonsense. As I read history, it was well proven to be nonsense between 1945 and 1975, in no small part by LSD

Rick Doblin's psychedelic renaissance, and James Corcoran's medical specialty, are divergent sects within the same silly, failed religion. But that religion will never enable people to feel like their lives matter.

Monday, June 19, 2023

A Hypothetical Conversation

OK, a nurse named Marjorie on H Unit at EMHC is called into a meeting with Director of Nursing Ryma Jacobson and Hospital Administrator Michelle Evans. It's Monday morning, after a reported incident over the weekend wherein an African-American Registered Nursing Assistant (RNA) was spat on and physically attacked by a patient ("Helen" --not her real name) who is pretty well known for frequent aggression. The context includes increasing allegations of corruption and patient abuse at EMHC which, it is feared, could become high profile media or new civil lawsuits almost any day. People could be fired or even prosecuted.

JACOBSON:    Marj, you were on over the weekend, right?

MARJORIE:    Yes, I worked yesterday on H.

JACOBSON:    Did you witness the incident when Helen had a fight with that RNA?

MARJORIE:    Helen was bad yesterday. She came after me and Remmy, spitting at us and trying to head-butt us. We called Security, and they came to the unit and took her back to her room a couple times.

EVANS:            We're interested in the fight she had with an RNA, though. Did you witness that?

MARJORIE:    Well, Remmy and I were in the nurses' station. We heard some yelling, and we knew it was Helen again, so we called security back.

JACOBSON:    But you saw the RNA, right? Did she hit Helen?

MARJORIE:    I wasn't in the day room until security arrived to take Helen back to her room again. The RNA was pretty upset, Helen had obviously been tangling with her the same way she had with me and Remmy earlier. Security walked the RNA out, too. But I didn't really see who hit who first, I just heard it sounded like a fight, and we figured Helen was going off, trying to get the meds she likes, that's why she does it.

EVANS:            Marj, you're in the union, right?

MARJORIE:    Sure...

EVANS:            And this RNA is from an agency, so she's non-union, isn't she?

MARJORIE:    Sure, I guess.

JACOBSON:    Marj, you know there's been a bunch of allegations about patient abuse by staff, and there's a lot of crazy legal cases being brought against people who are just doing their jobs, even though it's dangerous to deal with patients who are mentally ill and violent, and they're just trying to get media and money, and some are even trying to close hospitals down, like at Choate. Are you aware of these things that are happening?

MARJORIE:    Well, I know everyone's a little paranoid now...

JACOBSON:    Here's the deal. I think you knew the RNA was on the unit, and Helen says she hit her. You and Remmy were right there, you witnessed the incident. We really have to be industrious about reporting any kind of staff abuse of patients right now, and this is a case...

MARJORIE:    Well, Remmy and I definitely heard the commotion from the nurses' station, that's why we called security again. We couldn't see exactly...

EVANS:            Marj, you and Remmy are good, well-trained mental health nurses, supported by your union, and not likely to just sit in the nurses' station when you know the unit really needs to be actively monitored after the earlier trouble that morning. This RNA on the other hand, might not be as good at redirecting Helen and avoiding a fight. I think she probably hit Helen, right?

MARJORIE:    Well...

JACOBSON:    Hey Marj, if the police ask you whether you saw the RNA hit Helen, don't say you were sitting back, hiding in the nurses' station! That could even be called neglect under the circumstances.

MARJORIE:    I don't want to be blamed! Helen was spitting on me and Remmy and coming after us yesterday, too. She's totally out of control half the time!

JACOBSON:    Ya well, we're pretty sure this was the RNA's fault. OK?

MARJORIE:    I get it, that's fine.

EVANS:            Thanks for your help, Marj.

(Please note: This conversation is entirely hypothetical. The meeting with Marjorie and Ryma Jacobson and Michelle Evans on the morning of May 1, 2023, might be fiction. On the other hand, the police did investigate an incident like this, and a non-union, agency RNA was recently charged in Kane County Criminal Court with aggravated battery for allegedly hitting a patient at EMHC. The RNA says she is not guilty and she's being discriminated against. Investigation continues, so perhaps we will see.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2023


I finally met Bobby Sharpe in person! I can't really say it was face-to-face because everyone in Gus' staffing today was masked. But at least I was able to notice his stature and bearing. He's short, pudgy, and a bit hunched over. Gnomish, perhaps. 

The most obvious physical feature is his hair. Long (really needs a haircut!), blondish gray. I really think Bobby is trying to look like Boris Johnson, the clownish Brit politician. If he's doing that on purpose, he deserves credit for creativity.

But Boris has some charm as a politician. Bobby has none whatsoever as any kind of doctor, even as a state psychiatrist (which is probably the least likely kind of doctor to have any charm). He is hyper-aware of whether he has such total control over everyone in the room as he seems to need. This apparent pathology actually prevents him from holding any real treatment plan review for his patient Gus, as required under the Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code [405 ILCS 5/1-100, et seq.].

Today's truncated "staffing" included only one negative comment about Gus from Rachel the social worker. But it was a curious one: On May 9th, Gus commented, politely and honestly, but maybe injudiciously, in the process of taking off his jacket when he was asked to do so upon entering the lunchroom, "This rule only applies to me." 

Horrors! Such aggression! That one sure did have to be carefully documented in Gus' chart, to make sure his judge understands why the taxpayers should continue paying $800/day to keep Gus in the fake "hospital" to be "treated" for dehumanizing fake "diagnoses" with harmful drugs by the gnomish, goofy little Dr. not-so-Sharpe Boris Johnson imitator!

Rachel denied being the one who documented Gus' horrible aggressive comment, but refused to say who did document it, or why it would have been documented at all. Gus himself denied saying those exact words, but explained the situation and seemed to admit that he said something which might have been sarcastic or plaintive. But communication with staff on the plantation is supposed to be respectful, admiring, grateful, worshipful. Honest attitudes are just not allowed from slaves.

Dr. Boris Sharpe's favourite statement is, "That's not an appropriate subject in this setting." He uses that frequently, repetitively. The point is to shut anyone up who's saying anything that makes him nervous or challenges his beneficent omnipotence. I told him today, after his third or fourth use of the favoured shibboleth, that I thought his behaviour (note the Brit spellings) was inappropriate under IDHS policies and Illinois statutes. That was all he needed to end the "staffing" early in a funk and slink out.

They're trying to sell Gus to a different unit. They move patients around a lot, mainly to confuse and control them. They say it's either for administrative reasons (meaning simply, "because we feel like doing it") or for better clinical "treatment" dynamics (which is patently absurd in the clear absence of any effective "treatment" at all). But it's just for control: never let a slave stay in one place, allow no connection or stable orientation, make them move, make them move!

Oh, well. I remember when Rodney Yoder was moved from Chester to Elgin, and back to Chester via Alton. Everywhere he stopped, even for a night, he gave somebody my card. The more they move guys around, the more facilities and units I get into.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Such good people...

Barry Smoot called to my attention today a recent "Response Letter" from Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace B. Hou to IDHS Inspector General Peter Neumer. It is published, perhaps a bit triumphantly, on the IDHS website. They want everyone to know what good people they are, who are just bending over backwards to correct things they weren't responsible for themselves, bad things that they never knew were happening, and that they (of course!!) would never have permitted.

This comes to me on the very morning when I am filing a civil lawsuit in United States District Court in Chicago, which names both Grace Hou and Peter Neumer (along with two past Inspectors General and several other IDHS plantation overseers) as defendants. There is a fairly professional public relations operation in progress to isolate the recent disaster at Choate Mental Health Center from IDHS as a whole, and certainly to distance that flap from the basic function of state care for people with mental health problems and developmental disabilities.

The concept that the overseers hope the public will end up with is probably that the IDHS is an agency of well-intended and skilled professionals, although as in any large organization, a few bad apples occasionally make these good people look bad. Some "reforms" like surveillance cameras and more complicated reporting requirements will ensure that nothing like Choate will ever happen again, and all IDHS' slaves will be happy and well cared for.

It will not work, for two main reasons.

First, the people who work for IDHS are not skilled, and they don't remain well-intended for very long. So-called "mental health professionals" are furtive little mice who work for the state because as tiny cogs in the wheels of a large machine, they hope they will be unnoticed. Their families, neighbors and friends will not blame them for taking their salaries from the public fisc for jobs that they have no slightest idea how to do. They continue, every day, going to work and pretending that they can cure mental illness or fix bad behavior, crazy thinking and upsets, with medicine. They know quite well that they can't do that.

These people almost all started their careers on the intention to help. But they quickly failed in many small ways, until they became aware on some level that the whole project was a giant failure. Then they had to pretend, and lie, every day, to themselves and everyone else. That made them stupid (lying always does). A small handful of really bad people thus became able to control the group. The cogs and the wheels and the levers, and all the apparatus, now seems to just run. It's nobody's fault and nobody can change anything, no matter how bad it is. So it's best just to pretend it's not bad.

The second reason this won't work is, the public is pretty mean these days. We mostly look for who to prosecute, who to hate. The media help us, and make their bread and butter by stirring us up against each other for entertainment, like gladiators in a Roman circus. Medical experts are not safe from the guillotine now, if they ever were. Psychiatrists are just a perfect target, and IDHS has far too many of them perpetuating a very ugly culture of abuse and coverups.

The reforms that are really necessary for anything to change in Illinois include totally extracting psychiatry from mental health law, and establishing treatment regimes not based on bullshit diagnoses, harmful drugs, and the apotheosis of the brain. 

So when you think about these glowing congratulations and this calm rationality between two of the defendants in Mickey Russell v. Michelle Bogle, et al., just watch out for the sky to start falling.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

New federal lawsuit alleges sexual abuse in Illinois psych institutions


The Law Offices of Kretchmar and Cecala, P.C., has filed a new lawsuit in the United Stares District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, seeking compensatory and punitive damages from individual defendants accused of sexually abusing a patient who was involuntarily committed in state forensic psychiatric institutions. 

The plaintiff, Mickey Russell, is currently confined at Chester Mental Health Center, and scheduled for release in early January, 2024. Russell alleges that in 2015 he was seduced by Michelle Bogle, a Security Therapy Aide (STA) on Clinical Unit K at Elgin Mental Health Center (EMHC), who used him for revenge against her husband Kris Bogle, also an STA at EMHC. 

In 2021, while Mr. Russell was on conditional release in the community but still in the legal custody of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), he and Michelle Bogle had numerous sexual liaisons at Chicago area hotels, including one overnight drug party at the Hyatt Rosemont with other EMHC employees present.

Defendants along with Michelle and Kris Bogle include ten current or former employees and officials  in the IDHS variously accused of being complicit in the Bogles’ sexual abuse of the Plaintiff and/or a cover-up which continued for seven years. Among the officials named is Grace B. Hou, the current Secretary of Human Services, who reports directly to Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker.

The Complaint in the case demands a jury trial and details the evolution of the romantic and sexual “affair” between the Plaintiff and Michelle Bogle, who allegedly committed a chargeable felony by having sex with a patient who was legally incapable of consent while hospitalized under court order for treatment of his mental illness. 

This is the sixth federal lawsuit brought by Kretchmar & Cecala on behalf of individuals confined in the Illinois forensic mental health system alleging sexual abuse. All but one of those six cases involve female staff accused of sexually abusing male patients in their custody. Plaintiff Mickey Russell is African-American, along with four other victims/plaintiffs (and the vast majority of involuntary patients in the Illinois system).

S. Randolph Kretchmar, one of the attorneys for Plaintiff Russell, commented that, “Unfortunately, Illinois citizens who believe their taxes go toward paying mental health professionals to effectively treat the dangerously mentally ill, are instead finding that they fund an operation which resembles plantation slavery. Sexual abuse is absolutely endemic in state psychiatric hospitals, and nobody cares about the damage being done.”

A copy of the full Complaint in the case is available on request, and the attorneys for the Plaintiff Mickey Russell may be contacted at 847-370-5410.